Louisa Lim

Beijing Correspondent Louisa Lim is currently attending the University of Michigan as a Knight-Wallace Fellow. She will return to her regular role in 2014.

Based in Beijing, NPR foreign correspondent Louisa Lim finds China a hugely diverse, vibrant, fascinating place. "Everywhere you look and everyone you talk to has a fascinating story," she notes, adding that she's "spoiled with choices" of stories to cover. In her reports, Lim takes "NPR listeners to places they never knew existed. I want to give them an idea of how China is changing and what that might mean for them."

Lim opened NPR's Shanghai bureau in February 2006, but she's reported for NPR from up Tibetan glaciers and down the shaft of a Shaanxi coalmine. She made a very rare reporting trip to North Korea, covered illegal abortions in Guangxi province, and worked on the major multimedia series on religion in China "New Believers: A Religious Revolution in China." Lim has been part of NPR teams who multiple awards, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, a Peabody and two Edward R. Murrow awards, for their coverage of the Sichuan earthquake in 2008 and the Beijing Olympics. She's been honored in the Human Rights Press Awards, as well as winning prizes for her multimedia work.

In 1995, Lim moved to Hong Kong and worked at the Eastern Express newspaper until its demise six months later and then for TVB Pearl, the local television station. Eventually Lim joined the BBC, working first for five years at the World Service in London, and then as a correspondent at the BBC in Beijing for almost three years.

Lim found her path into journalism after graduating with a degree in Modern Chinese studies from Leeds University in England. She worked as an editor, polisher, and translator at a state-run publishing company in China, a job that helped her strengthen her Chinese. Simultaneously, she began writing for a magazine and soon realized her talents fit perfectly with journalism.

NPR London correspondent Rob Gifford, who previously spent six years reporting from China for NPR, thinks that Lim is uniquely suited for his former post. "Not only does Louisa have a sharp journalistic brain," Gifford says, "but she sees stories from more than one angle, and can often open up a whole new understanding of an issue through her reporting. By listening to Louisa's reports, NPR listeners will certainly get a feel for what 21st century China is like. It is no longer a country of black and white, and the complexity is important, a complexity that you always feel in Louisa's intelligent, nuanced reporting."

Out of all of her reporting, Lim says she most enjoys covering stories that are quirky or slightly offbeat. However, she gravitates towards reporting on arts stories with a deeper significance. For example, early in her tenure at NPR, Lim highlighted a musical on stage in Seoul, South Korea, based on a North Korean prison camp. The play, and Lim's piece, highlighted the ignorance of many South Koreans of the suffering of their northern neighbors.

Married with a son and a daughter, Lim recommends any NPR listeners travelling to Shanghai stop by a branch of her husband's Yunnan restaurant, Southern Barbarian, where they can snack on deep fried bumblebees, a specialty from that part of southwest China. In Beijing, her husband owns and runs what she calls "the first and best fish and chip shop in China", Fish Nation.

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Dead Stop
1:33 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Deaths Tell The Story Of Life In Old Hong Kong

For more than a decade, author Patricia Lim researched the 8,000 graves of the Hong Kong Cemetery, one of the city's oldest Christian cemeteries. Here, Lim stands at the grave of former Hong Kong police officer Richardson Barry Loxley Leslie. Last year, she rested on the grave while, unbeknownst to her at the time, she was having a mild heart attack.
Louisa Lim NPR

Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 7:01 am

Below a noisy flyover alongside Hong Kong's Happy Valley racecourse, there's a little-noticed green oasis stretching up the hillside, punctuated by imposing Victorian chest tombs, granite obelisks and delicate angels. This is Hong Kong cemetery, the last resting place of the early settlers who colonized the island, starting in the 1840s.

For my mother, Patricia Lim, the cemetery is a repository of the island's early untold early history.

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Asia
10:27 am
Fri July 27, 2012

Pay, Not Play, Fuels British Invasion Of Chinese Soccer

Federico Macheda of Manchester United (center) challenges players from Shanghai Shenhua during a friendly match between the two teams in Shanghai, China, on Wednesday.
Hong Wu Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 11:20 am

On a gray, polluted Beijing morning, parents peer through a fence anxiously at their little darlings' wobbly dribbling skills on the soccer pitch, as they try to score goals against former Manchester City goalkeeper Alex Williams.

Across town, Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta poses gamely with another group of Chinese kids.

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Asia
5:28 am
Thu July 26, 2012

Beijing Flooding Compared To Katrina

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 8:35 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

In China, authorities are still counting the cost of heavy weekend flooding in Beijing. Officials now say 37 people died and more than 60,000 homes were damaged. Loses are estimated at nearly two billion dollars, but as NPR's Louisa Lim reports from Beijing, some of the damage is to the government's credibility.

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Asia
1:02 am
Fri July 20, 2012

N. Korean Conundrum: Are Political Changes Real?

In this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency and distributed in Tokyo by the Korea News Service on July 9, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seen with a woman in Pyongyang. It's not clear who she is, but a first lady would be a marked departure from the days of Kim's father, who kept his personal life private.
AP

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 8:28 pm

North Korea's army has been swearing oaths of loyalty to leader Kim Jong Un after he was given the new title of marshal of the nation, cementing his position. This comes just days after the army chief was dismissed for illness. Analysts suspect these announcements are masking far deeper changes, but there's disagreement about what it means.

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Asia
1:17 am
Tue July 10, 2012

China's Post-Olympic Woe: How To Fill An Empty Nest

Fireworks light the night sky above the National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, during the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The stadium is largely empty these days.
Franck Fife AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 9:31 pm

As the opening date for the London Olympics nears, Beijing's acclaimed Olympic venues are saddled with high maintenance costs and are struggling to get by. And the most famous, the Bird's Nest stadium, has been repudiated by its own creator, dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

Even the state-run government mouthpiece, the China Daily, worries that Beijing's iconic structures risk becoming "white elephants."

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Asia
10:36 am
Mon July 2, 2012

'Political Crisis' Faces Hong Kong's New Leader

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and his wife, Regina, shake hands with supporters Sunday during a flag-raising ceremony to mark the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China. Leung was sworn in as Hong Kong's third leader amid growing discontent with China's rule over the Asian financial center.
Kin Cheung AP

It's a pretty bad first day at work when hundreds of thousands of people march through the streets calling for your resignation. That's what happened Sunday to Hong Kong's new leader, Leung Chun-ying, who was appointed by Beijing. The huge turnout presents new problems for China amid its own difficult power transition.

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Asia
12:34 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

A Portrait Of Chinese Corruption, In Rosy Pink

Artist and filmmaker Zhang Bingjian sits in his Beijing studio in front of his Hall of Fame — portraits of corrupt Chinese officials. He has commissioned portraits of 1,600 officials convicted of corruption.
Angie Quan NPR

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 8:26 pm

Corruption is usually thought to be a bad thing. But in China, the answer is no longer crystal clear.

For decades, the country's Communist Party has declared that corruption threatens its very survival. But there are signs that this is changing. Recently, the state-run media have begun arguing that corruption can't be stamped out, so it should be contained to acceptable levels. And some corruption appears to be tacitly condoned.

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Asia
4:23 am
Thu June 21, 2012

Ai Weiwei Says He Is Barred From Leaving China

In a park in Beijing, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei holds a copy of a government document informing him of the expiry of his bail term.
Ed Jones AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 21, 2012 8:41 am

Dissident and artist Ai Weiwei said Thursday that he has been forbidden from leaving China, despite the lifting of strict bail conditions imposed after he was released from detention last year. This comes a day after a hearing on his tax evasion case, which he was prevented from attending.

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Asia
3:35 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Hijacking Reveals Strains In China-North Korea Ties

A Chinese paramilitary guard gestures outside the North Korean Embassy in Beijing on May 17. Tensions between the two countries are rising after unidentified North Koreans hijacked three Chinese fishing boats and demanded ransom, before releasing the vessels and their crew.
Mark Ralston AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 8:00 am

New strains are emerging between China and its old ally, North Korea, six months after the death of reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. The recent North Korean hijacking of Chinese fishing boats has shaken those ties considerably, leading to public pressure on China to stand up to North Korea.

Fishing boats returning to their home port in China don't normally make the news. But they did last month, because three boats — and 28 fishermen — had been detained for almost two weeks in North Korea.

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Asia
12:57 am
Tue June 5, 2012

What China's Thinkers Need Most Is Also Most Elusive

Yang Weidong interviews a subject for his documentary project "Signal," which finds that the vast majority of China's intellectuals yearn most for freedom. He plans to interview 500 of China's top thinkers for the project.
Courtesy Yang Weidong

Originally published on Wed June 6, 2012 8:35 am

A deceptively simple question has become an obsession for Chinese artist Yang Weidong: "What do you need?"

For the past four years, Yang has posed the question to more than 300 Chinese intellectuals, and the results illustrate a startling level of discontent among China's thinkers.

As for the answer, one word pops up time and time again.

"I need freedom," says writer Chang Ping.

"I need freedom of speech," says economist Mao Yushi.

"I need freedom of expression," says poet Ye Kuangzheng.

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